The Report (2019)

The Report by Scott Z Burns is a gripping dramatisation of lawyer Daniel Jones’ investigations into the government-sanctioned CIA torture during interrogation of terrorist suspects: the suppression of reports into government behaviour is now an incredibly timely subject.

Redacted

by Alexa Dalby

The Report

CAUTION: Here be spoilers

Adam Driver puts in an astonishing performance as idealistic lawyer Dan Jones, who dedicated five years of his life to uncovering redacted evidence of the CIA torture of Islamic detainees outside the US in the wake of 9/11.

Annette Bening too is exceptional as fearless Senator Dianne Feinstein, who encouraged and supported him and his work for the Senate Intelligence Committee, of which she was chairperson.

It becomes clear in the course of The Report that the CIA are using ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ that are brutal, immoral and in any case ineffectual, using methods based on bogus, untested research by a couple of snake-oil academics. In itself the situation is horrific enough but the flashbacks which show the tortures being inflicted on the detainees are as sensitively recreated as is possible given the circumstances.

Jones is shown beavering away with his team (eventually stripped away from him as opposition to his findings grew) in a claustrophobic, windowless basement office. In parallel, the tortures are shown also taking place in dilapidated, dank subterranean bunkers.

And did Jones’ research finally see the light of day? His report of many thousand pages was compacted to a fraction of its original length. And many detainees are still imprisoned without trial.

The Report is informative and gripping, though the blizzard of detail and dialogue is at times confusing without background knowledge of the issues. Overall it’s both distressing to know that such evil routinely exists and inspirational in that there are still principled people who are committed to fighting it.

Director Scott Z Burns, in uncovering an American political scandal, could not have predicted the release of his film would be so timely in the UK. Here we have our own report – not on torture but on Russian interference into our political process – whose publication is also being suppressed.

The Report premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and is released on 15 November 2019 in the UK.

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